Locals worry new Co-op could ruin life in Belsize Village as shop eyes former XO site

Residents and councillors outside the former XO restaurant that is set to become a Co-op in Belsize

Residents and councillors outside the former XO restaurant that is set to become a Co-op in Belsize Village. Picture: Linda Grove - Credit: Linda Grove

Locals in Belsize Village are concerned a Co-op set to move into the area could destroy independent businesses, and change village life forever.

The closed XO restaurant in Belsize Lane

The closed XO restaurant in Belsize Lane - Credit: Archant

A year since it was first rumoured, the supermarket is set to move into Belsize Lane to take over the former XO restaurant.

Councillors heard about the move last week. The chain is hoping to open a shop that will serve from 6am to 11pm, Monday to Sunday.

As it is falls under permitted development rights, it doesn’t require a new planning application.

But the chain, which has stores across the UK, has had to apply to Camden Council for a licence to sell alcohol.

Veteran Belsize activist Linda Grove previously campaigned against Tesco and Sainsbury’s moving in.

She said she is worried the store will put independent traders out of business.

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“We have Roni’s Bakery and Deli, and the Late Late Shop, and they will be hugely affected,” she told us. “The delivery trucks will cause huge congestion as well, as we’ve seen with Tesco in Hampstead. The three shops will end up going. The Co-op will sell cheaper food and doing everything, including a deli.”

She also criticised the Co-op for not consulting neighbours.

Councillor for Hampstead Town Maria Higson is one of the councillors approached by the store last week. She also backs a consultation.

She said: “I’m really worried about Belsize Village. It’s a lovely community and area that residents have fought to protect.

“We need to say residents in the area don’t want this at all. However we need to look at our options, because what we can’t do is ignore the possibility it will go ahead. If it does, we need to minimise the effects.”

A Co-op spokesperson said: “We believe a new Co-op would enhance shopping options for local people, providing a wide selection of fresh, healthy foods and creating full and part-time jobs, which would be targeted at people living in the area.

“We are a proud community retailer and would provide members and customers with the opportunity to raise funds for local groups and organisations through our membership scheme.”

Letters, p19